Archive for the ‘Recession & Layoffs’ Category


A University Recruiting Perspective on Millennials and the Recession

August 6, 2011

Our expert series continues with a conversation with Lisa Simmons who is the assistant director of recruiting for the Schools of Business at Wake Forest University.  Our research uncovered interesting findings on the value of education and degrees and Lisa provides insight from her perspective of working within higher education.  Enjoy!

Q: As the Assistant Director, Recruiting for the Wake Forest Schools of Business, what were your initial reactions to the findings in the white paper? 

A: Actually, several points really struck a chord with me.

  • Distrust of “big business“ – Millennials hold out a larger and more holistic ideal for companies than the profit motive.  Their model business is engaged in sustainability, diversity, and is giving back to the community. By and large, they are people and not profit focused.  They believe in “doing good” and expect to be treated as a human being and not a commodity by their employers.  
  • Dissatisfaction with current employment – Your findings about Millennials actually reflect that of the larger American workforce.  So, while this was no surprise, it did reinforce the belief that college students need careful career exploration and a career plan.  
  • Doubt about cost versus value of college education – This has been in the news a lot lately.  Parents, students, and even various pundits have been discussing the issue.  There is no doubt that college can be an expensive endeavor.  Yet, without a degree, it is difficult for young adults to find work and then to grow.  That’s not to say that it cannot happen; only that it is very rare. It is just very difficult to get a foot in the door of a company without the requisite education.  

Q: From your perspective, what are some best practices employed by Wake Forest University Schools of Business in preparing students for the “real world?”


  • Focus on lifetime career management – Our career staff provides students with the necessary tools to manage their career and job search, not just while in college, but for a lifetime.
  • For-credit career education – Career education is a mandatory part of the curriculum.  While academics are of supreme importance, the student’s ultimate success will be measured by employment.
  • Four P’s Program – The career coaching staff trains students in the Four P’s of Purpose, Passion, Preparation, and Performance, which is a solid foundation for career contentment and achievement.
  • Dedicated Employer Relations – Having a dedicated staff allows full-time pursuit and development of employer relationships.  Some models I have seen place the responsibility for employer relations on the career coaching staff.  That leaves less time for specialization in either area. 
  • Mentorship Program – Career staff carefully pair corporate volunteers with students to provide a more rounded real-world experience.
  • Supportive administration – Our administrators understand the importance of student success in our own success as a school.  They supported the building of a career staff that could meet the needs of students.  Wake Forest Schools of Business was featured in a June 10, 2011 Inside Higher Ed article entitled MBA in Job-Hunting?

Q: Do you find that students ask different questions than students did 5 or 10 years ago regarding the ROI on their college education investment?

A: It’s my opinion that the value of a college education has not changed but the perception of its value has in the weak job market.  A college education has been understood to be the usual gateway to the “American Dream.”  It is a door opener and a box that must be checked for many jobs. While it is still true that a college degree is a necessary step on the path to a career, given the state of the job market, some students (and even parents) may have begun to doubt. 

The competition for jobs is high.  Job seekers not only need a degree for many jobs, but also must be competitive in job seeking. It’s like the adage, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you.”  Thus, job seekers need to outpace the competition.  The resume, elevator speech, and interview skills must be polished.  The candidate needs to be able to relay his or her value to the employer.  In addition, the candidate should be able to demonstrate knowledge of the company, industry, and competition.  That is why university career services offices are crucial to student success.  

Q: As mentioned in the white paper, there have been numerous recently released statistics regarding people looking to make a move and my research showed 70% of Millennials were considering the possibility of changing jobs.  As someone on the ground floor working with the Millennial generation, what is your reaction to these type of statistics?

A: I think there may be a few factors at play here.  First, as students step out into the world for the first time, they may learn that things are not quite as they once imagined.  Reality may shake apart previously held idealistic views when they finally get on the job.  Perhaps the job that they thought they wanted no longer seems to be a good fit, or maybe the industry in which they are working is no longer desirable.  Of course, the current economic conditions are not facilitating employee satisfaction by and large.  The temptation for employers is to try to do more with less, and this usually falls on the shoulders of the employees via increased workload, light to non-existent raises, few promotion opportunities, and benefit cuts.  There may even be inadequate funds for professional development and other needs / programs.

Another reason that Millennials might be unhappy is that they did not receive enough career assistance while in college.  Either their school did not stress career management or students never believed it to be necessary.  They may have taken the first job offered rather than having set and pursued a goal throughout college, culminating in a close approximation to their dream job.  How many undergrad students become engaged with career services when they are freshman or sophomores versus the last semester of their senior year when graduation is knocking on the door?  How many graduate students ignore the career resources at their disposal? The temptation may be to pursue the academics and let the career development take care of itself.  Unfortunately, that strategy works best at or near full employment and not during a recession. 

Wake Forest is concentrating on the development of the whole person since the launch of the Office of Personal & Career Development. Likewise, the Wake Forest Schools of Business, faculty and staff are very involved with students because our success is measured by their success.  Thus, shortly after orientation, our career staff begins to expose students to the work world through industry panels, company information sessions, company site visits and trips, practical learning opportunities and other career education opportunities.  In addition, they assist students in putting together a plan and a brand and provide a mentor.  This leads to more informed career decisions that are likely to boost eventual job satisfaction. 

Thank you Lisa for your time!


Expert Interview Series: Market Movement

May 26, 2011

Our expert series continues with a Q&A with Melissa McGuire, CEO and founder of Sherpa.  Sherpa is a Charlotte-based staffing, recruiting and consulting agency focused on the fields of accounting & finance, technology and project management.  You can find them online at

Q: As mentioned in our white paper (The Millennial Generation Today: The economic environment impact to recruitment, retention and engagement), there have been numerous recently released statistics regarding people looking to make a move and our research showed 70% of Millennials were considering the possibility of changing jobs. What is your reaction to these type of statistics?

A: I believe the statistics. First of all, I believe a large percentage of all employees are considering changing jobs. Never before have I heard so many people express so much stress about their jobs. Most have worked harder than ever during the recession and have received fewer rewards: lower or no bonuses, less 401k matching, less job security, higher health care costs, etc. Additionally, because of fears of layoffs and pressure to produce results has lowered morale in many companies. I don’t track millennials because I don’t look at age when evaluating people, but those newer to the work force are likely to be disillusioned with their jobs and believe there are greener pastures. However, I do believe that most will find better times if they stay in their current jobs. But, the trust has been broken, so many will probably leave.

Q: Do you see movement of those currently employed starting to pick up or has it held steady throughout the recession?

A: I have seen people very reluctant to change jobs during the recession. Instead, they hung on to them, even if they didn’t like them. It is the increase in confidence in the economy that is creating the environment for job changing. There are more jobs to move to and there is a little less fear of being the “last one in” at a company, which is the fear that they could be the first one out if the company had layoffs.

Q: When your recruiters contact passive candidates (those currently employed) are they more willing to consider an opportunity you may be calling about than they were 2 or 3 years ago?

A: Definitely.

Thanks Melissa for taking the time to answers our questions.  We appreciate your insight and know the statistics have some of those responsible for retaining their current talent very nervous. 

As a reminder, the white paper is available for download at


New Research Release: What we need to know NOW about our largest generation

May 18, 2011

The Millennial Generation Today: Impact of the economic environment on recruitment, retention and engagement white paper is available online at  The white paper is available complimentary.

Almost 1,200 Millennials (21 to 30 years old) participated in the national online survey to gauge how this generation feels about working in corporate America, thoughts on future employment decisions, and changing consideration of what’s important about work and their future. 

So what did our survey find? Here are a few key highlights…

  • We have entered a “flight pattern” of workers wanting to find new employment opportunities. 70% of Millennials say there is a possibility they will change jobs.
  • Women are more likely than men to consider leaving.
  • Top three priorities are compensation, flexible work schedule and opportunity to make a difference.
  • Despite the economic reality, 70% are positive about their future in general.
  • Only 41% make saving for retirement a priority.

Results include findings on Millennials and the Workplace (will they stay or go, what’s important and the continual layoff affect), the Education Debate (high cost versus ROI and does your degree work for you?) and Future Visions (retirement, entrepreneurism and CSR impact). 

Take a moment and read through the white paper and then let us know your thoughts on the results.  We look forward to engaging in conversation with you.


Follow our blog over the next few months as we talk with experts from areas related to our findings to dig deeper into the story of our data.  Up first is Shay Prosser, author of Get It Together – The Real-World Money Guide for Graduates.  She’ll discuss her thoughts on the retirement findings and the financial impact of our new economic normal on this generation. Look for her blog interview on Monday, May 23, 2011.


Freshman Today, Your Employees in 2014

February 21, 2011

February 21, 2011:  What does it mean for future employers if the self-rated emotional health of their future workforce is the lowest it has been since 1985 (when the question was first asked and tracked)?  According to The American Freshman by the HERI (Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA) there has been a decrease in the number of freshman that report high levels of emotional health and an increase in the number of freshman that report being frequently “overwhelmed by all I have to do” as high school seniors.  Even more unsettling is the difference between men and women freshman…38.8% of women felt stressed and overwhelmed as a high school senior versus 17.6% of men. 

If the stress levels continue what is the emotional state you can expect those new recruits to be in when they arrive on their first day at work?  Will adjustments be needed in the onboarding process? Will supervisors need to become sensitive (or more sensitive) to their emotional state?  Will over-coddling continue for this generation (or be the prescriptive consultants prescribe)?  I think this depends on how you value your employees.

Most companies have an EAP (employee assistance program) to help employees deal with emotional issues which are paid for by the company.  This allows the employee to see a counselor or clinician to work through their issues including addiction, stress, balance issues, etc. at no cost to the employee.  So it is safe to say that companies – to an extent – are currently aware that an employee’s emotional state impacts their productivity.  But for the most part EAPs are underutilized by employees and HR practioners will tell you their constant marketing of all the EAP has to offer falls on deaf ears. 

So what do we do?  First, new hires – especially those just out of college – need to learn about an EAP-type offering from their peers.  We all know that Millennials turn to their peers for guidance and advice on just about everything.  Second, additional soft skills training – like time management and dealing with stress – needs to be included in a new hires first year.  Finally, managers need to be clued in to recognize stress and overwhelming-type symptoms in their new hires and trained in how to deal with stress and productivity issues. 

There is no silver bullet answer but awareness of changing trends in our youngest employees is the first step to dealing with the issue and getting ahead of the issue before it derails a potential high performers.  As we all know, those high performers don’t just fall from the sky. 


Are you 21 to 30 years old?  If so, we want your voice.  The last few years have been interesting to say the least and the Millennial Generation (Gen Y) has graduated or worked through one of the toughest economic periods in recent decades.  Take our confidential, online survey to share your thoughts on working in corporate America, future employment decisions, what’s important about work and your future.  The survey ends at midnight on March 1 so hurry up.  It’ll take less than 10 minutes to give us your opinions.  Survey link:  Feel free to tweet out the link, share it with your friends and send it to your connections! 



Talent Movement

February 1, 2011

February 1, 2011: Recently I received one of my weekly updates from LinkedIn with the following subject line – “Stacey B. 73 of your connections changed jobs in 2010.” By design I don’t have hundreds and hundreds of connection on LinkedIn but those 73 people who changed jobs make up close to 1/4 of my total connections.

For pretty much all of 2010 we have been hearing from HR experts and numerous surveys that people will be looking more seriously at changing jobs when the recovery begins.  Well I guess that time has arrived.  The economist say the recovery has begun and it looks like a number of my connections agree. 

Whether they are overwhelmed, burned out, tired of low morale or just can’t take it anymore people are starting to look around for different, better or just a new opportunity.  More movement is on the horizon as well.  I believe there are many more that haven’t left yet but are probably thinking about it, very seriously.  This has huge implications for companies, especially if the company is projecting its own recovery.

Retention of talent has never been more crucial than it is now so make 2011 the year you focus on employee engagement…whatever that means for your particular organization.    Once size does not fit all but all companies need to be focused on keeping their talent and keeping their talent engaged and productive.   


**SBR Consulting has a new research study launching!  As of today the Millennial Generation and the Recession survey (Phase Two) is live.  We encourage all Millennials (Gen Y; under 30) to take the short and confidential 10-minute online survey.  You have until midnight at March 1.    Please share the link with your friends around the US and encourge them to take the survey as well!   Click here to go directly to the survey

Survey Background:  The last few years have been interesting to say the least.  The Millennial Generation (Gen Y) has graduated or worked through one of the toughest economic periods in recent decades.  Our study aims to determine how this generation feels about working in corporate America, future employment decisions, what’s important about work and their future.  Much has been said about this generation in the past five to 10 years but has the recession and slow recovery changed their thoughts, perceptions and behaviors in regard to work?


No Lights at Wrigley Field

October 19, 2010

October 19, 2010:  My husband and I are big baseball fans (my husband is stat and player focused, I just love the game).  We spent our birthdays one year stuffed on a bus with 30 other folks hitting five stadiums in six days that took us from Pittsburgh to Toronto with a few stops in between.  Our goal is to see games in all 30 stadiums.  We have 11 down and 19 more to go.  He prefers the NY Yankees and I am a Boston Red Sox fan.  (Yes we have heard a million times “well I’m sure that makes for an interesting marriage”…and yes, it does.) 

As the baseball season ends and we head into the playoffs I just finished an interesting book that relates how companies can learn to win from a “cursed” team’s errors.  For baseball fans you know that team is the Chicago Cubs.  John Charles Kunich, co-author of “Cubs Fans’ Leadership Secrets” hits on a few of the cursed highlights and how to take the lessons and apply them to creating and growing strong, healthy companies. One of my favorites is the Cubs refusing to allow night baseball at Wrigley Field.  The Cubs were the last team in the major league to put up lights so the game could be played at dark.  They held out till 1988.  As Kunich writes, “Some critics have suggested that the long delay in adding lights had more to do with penny-pinching than tradition-hugging on the part of the team owners.  There may be elements of truth to both views.”  He continues, “The lights-out crusade became emblematic of the Cubs emphasis, or over-emphasis, on their glorious past and their gorgeous, venerable, green cathedral of baseball.” 

This had me thinking about how many companies settle on the reason of not trying something or taking a risk because tradition or “the way we’ve always done it” gets in the way.  How many of you work for or have worked for companies that fail to realize their true potential – in the Cubs’ situation a financial potential – because they don’t embrace taking risks or bucking tradition.  If there is one upside to the recession it is forcing companies to realize they can’t do what they have always done and get the to next level or even survive the next couple of years. 

What are your thoughts?  The first two people to leave a meaningful comment about companies taking or not taking risks or embracing change will win a free, autographed copy of Kunich’s book “Cubs Fans’ Leadership Secrets.”  Once you leave your comment please email me at with your name and shipping address.  *I reserve the right to deny any winner that claims to be a Yankee fan.  Just kidding.  But I do reserve the right to determine if your comment is meaningful and worthy of the book prize.


Boomers: “More Likely to be Stoned”

July 28, 2010

July 28, 2010: Monday morning I read an article in my local paper – Charlotte Observer –  about how the first wave of Baby Boomers (those between 55 and 65 years old) will likely be starting their golden years fat, flat broke and possibly stoned.  Not that this is completely new information…you had to be living under a rock not to hear about the affect the recession has had on retirement accounts, but worthy of discussion no less. 

  • Between 2002 – 2007 illegal drug use by folks in their 50s increased by 46% over the five year period according to federal studies.
  • 401k plans have seen brighter days…nationally retirement accounts initially lost $2.8 trillion, or about a third of their value in the stock market according to the Urban Institute. 
  • In my state, North Carolina, more than third between 55 adn 64 are obese according to the NC Center for Health Statistics website. 

Picture a company’s boardroom which is more likely to be full of men and women over the age of 50.  According to the statistic above, if there are 10 people in the room, at least one could possibly be stoned.  Not exactly how I picture folks running a company or managing a board but could be the reality.  And if my retirement had taken a beating like there’s just years away from retirement and I every year it got harder to fight the belly bulge…well then I may just consider being stoned too.

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